Welcome to Dubai (Cut)
By Coleby Nicholson
Jewellery is increasingly being used to help brand other products, but an interesting twist is a city that’s being used to brand a diamond – or is a diamond being used to help brand a city?
Patent-cut diamonds are not new. People have been trying to develop new designs and diamond cuts for years, but the real key to patent-cut success is marketing. That is, there is not much sense in having something patented if it doesn’t sell, and a healthy marketing budget goes a long way towards generating those sales.
Like any “normal” commercial process, the aim is to sell as many products to as many people as possible in a given market. Of course, attention must be given to managing the brand, but when it comes to diamonds, the market is generally considered “the world”.
One diamond brand is bucking this trend. In fact, it has probably set its own trend: the Dubai Cut diamond is only available from one retailer, in one location – Dubai. In fact, in marketing the Dubai Cut diamond, its creators are also marketing Dubai itself.
Unveiled in 2005 to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the crown prince of Dubai, the Dubai Cut diamond has 99 facets, symbolising the 99 holy names of Allah – known in the Qur’an as “the 99 most beautiful names of God”. There is, according to tradition, a special group of 99 names but no enumeration of them. Thus, the exact list is not agreed upon, and the names of God (as adjectives, word constructs, or otherwise) exceed 99 in the Qur’an and Sunnah.
Created by the leading Russian polished-diamond manufacturer Kristall Corporation, the Dubai Cut was commissioned by the Dubai Metals and Commodities Centre (DMCC), which is a government initiative to establish a commodity market place in Dubai and provide industry-specific market infrastructure and a full range of facilities for commodities industries such as gold and precious metals, as well as diamonds and coloured stones.
Kristall produces between 1,500 and 1,800 Dubai Cut stones each year. Each Russian-mined and laser-inscribed with a serial number, they can only be purchased from Dhamani stores in Dubai.
“The Dubai cut is a unique diamond, which we think of more as a symbol of Dubai; a kind of memento of (the customer’s) visit,” says Amit Dhamani, managing director, Dhamani. “At the same time, it reminds them of the culture inherent in the country, and also gives them a unique diamond because it’s a limited edition.”
Dhamani has 17 stores in Dubai and was granted Dubai Cut exclusive retail rights for both loose stone and jewellery sales in 2006. The company has its roots in Jaipur, India where Amit’s father established the business in 1969. Since, it has evolved to become an international company, spreading globally before expanding into Dubai in 1991.
“We had already started an operation in Thailand and we were distributing from Dubai,” Amit says of the business that was then a diamond and gemstone cutter and polisher. “Witnessing the growth of the Dubai economy, we then expanded into retailing.”
The company today is a vertical operation encompassing manufacturing and wholesale operations alongside its retail arm, all of which are run independently, Amit asserts. Dhamani was hand-picked for the Dubai Cut contract because it provided the right retail fit.
“The DMCC did research on competent companies in the market who would be able to develop this project in a very good way, and transform it into a high-end brand, and at the same time, keep the level of this brand real top niche, which is what Dubai is all about. Out of all the jewellers and companies who were interested in retailing the product, the DMCC chose Dhamani.”
Amit describes himself as practical marketer and is not overly concerned about promoting the Dubai Cut internationally: “I am not worried whether people know about the diamond before they arrive in Dubai because, after they arrive here, they’ll certainly know about it. If you pick-up a city map you see advertising, you will see it promoted in hotels and in various other high-end locations.”
He also explains that the stone’s limited production also aids sales in Dubai while lessening the need for international marketing.
“Because the Dubai Cut diamond is meant to reflect the quality, excellence, innovation and vision that is Dubai, we took more than six months and worked with several of the world’s leading jewellery designers and craftsmen to develop (complimenting) lines,” Amit added.
Dubai has done a remarkable job at branding itself as a high-end, affluent and commercially-vibrant city and Amit is aware that the brand integrity of the Dubai Cut is just as important, and must be reflective of the ultimate owners of the intellectual property – the Dubai government.
“Branding for me is sometimes not only the name but the value that comes with the brand. So certainly, the future of diamonds is in branding, not in the name but in the value that comes with the name – the right design; the manufacturer; the make; the certificate; the packaging; the display and so on. All of these aspects will really entice consumers to walk into the store and buy diamonds like they are buying electronics and other stock,” Amit says.
He believes most jewellery is not being packaged properly, and that the brand is not clearly defined, which is why consumers are buying other products. “Certainly in this aspect, branding is our future and I really urge all of the jewellers globally to see what they can do in their company,” Amit said, adding, “It’s not important to spend dollars to just go out and do branding.
Branding is all about transforming the value of the company, the product and giving this message to the customer. That is, for me, all the branding that can be done in diamonds.”
So, is the diamond helping to market Dubai or is Dubai helping market the diamond? A little like the age-old conundrum, does it much matter if the chicken or the egg came first?
About the author:
Coleby Nicholson is editor of Jeweller, the leading business-to-business magazine for the Australian and New Zealand jewellery industries. www.jewellermagazine.com
More reading: Proprietary diamond cuts